Every family has secrets; skeletons in their closets that they spend all their energy in order to keep them hidden. This is shown clearly in the film Strangerland; a story of how a family secret’s are revealed as their lives are ripped apart by a sand storm. Joseph Fiennes and Nicole Kidman play a married couple, whose children go missing after a sand storm sweeps through their town. Hugo Weaving plays the town sheriff who starts to unravel the real truth about the strain in the couple’s relationship and how it played a part in their children’s disappearance.
This all plays out against the beautiful landscape of the Australian outback. As the parent’s search across the harsh wasteland, it becomes clear that chance of survival for the children decreases by the day. When this realisation strikes the characters, the emotion shines through and despite their actions and mistakes, the audience starts to empathise with them.
The film’s strength is in the way that the tension builds, and as the secrets are revealed and the mystery starts to unravel, we become engrossed in the drama. Whether you sympathise with Fiennes’ character, or Kidman’s, the film doesn’t show any real judgement towards the choices that each character has made. The couple have put aside their differences for the sake of their children’s safety.
The film does start to lose its way as it builds towards the conclusion, and it felt as if the unraveling of the mysteries started to put a dampener on the plot. The twists and turns that the film take all point towards a very predictable conclusion.
Despite the strong cast, the film is let down by the second half as after a compelling set up, the film starts to lose its legs towards the back end of the almost two hour run time. Despite strong performances from the three leads, they are not able to raise the film above the weak.
This film was limited to a DVD release in the UK and a limited release in the US, which is surprising given the cast list. Whether this film will find it’s market with its DVD release remains to be seen, but I feel that the film is let down by its weak conclusion, and the stars fail to raise the film to anything above average.
Dir: Kim Farrant
Scr: Michael Kinirons, Fiona Seres
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving
Prd: Macdara Kelleher, Naomi Wenck
Music: Keefus Ciancia
Runtime: 112 mins
Strangerland is out on DVD on Monday 4th July